Have you ever heard the saying, “Good night. Don’t let the bedbugs bite”? It used to be a harmless phrase that evoked a chuckle. But for Joanne Moore, a retired Air Force major, it has become a chilling reality. One night, she awoke to record a dream, only to discover three bugs the size of a dog tick on her pillow and two more on her sleeping husband’s nightshirt. This unsettling experience is not uncommon in Lancaster County, as bedbugs are making an unwelcome comeback across the nation.
The Rise of Bedbugs
Bedbugs have been found in local motels, apartments, retirement communities, college student housing, and even well-to-do family homes. These blood-sucking insects can infiltrate from various sources and establish themselves within a matter of days. Ed Saunders, an exterminator from Tele-Pest Inc., warns that bedbugs can hide anywhere, from light sockets to computers. They are a resilient and widespread problem that is only worsening with time.
Chris Komarow, a senior technician for Dominion Pest Control & Exterminating of Lancaster, emphasizes that no one is immune to bedbugs. Whether you are rich or poor, clean or dirty, as long as you exhale and have warm blood, you are a target. Adding to the challenge of dealing with these pests is the fact that bedbugs can survive for a year or longer without a meal.
The Local Situation
Kim Wissler, the city’s health officer, acknowledges that Lancaster City has a bedbug issue, with over 30 cases reported in the past three years. However, all of these cases have been in residential properties, and no commercial establishments have been affected. Denny Geib, district manager at Erlich, a nationwide pest control company, reveals that hundreds of hotel and motel rooms in Lancaster County have been treated for bedbugs in the last few years.
While bedbugs do not carry diseases, their bites can leave nasty welts and cause distress among those affected. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have even labeled the resurgence of bedbugs as an “emerging public health issue.”
Prevention and Treatment
Preventing and dealing with bedbugs requires vigilance. The Greater Lancaster Hotel and Motel Association, comprised of 40 members, has implemented bedbug prevention procedures and provided training sessions to staff and lodgers. These measures include daily inspections of vacated rooms, hotter temperatures used in washing and cleaning bedding and linens, and the use of specially trained beagles to sniff out bedbugs.
To protect against infestation, individuals are encouraged to inspect their surroundings before unpacking. Additionally, both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer extensive information on their websites regarding bedbug prevention, detection, and treatment. A list of EPA-registered products specifically designed to combat bedbugs is also available to consumers.
A Historical Perspective
The resurgence of bedbugs may come as a surprise to some, but these pests were once a fixture in American society. Until the 1950s, travelers routinely checked hotel and motel rooms for bedbugs before settling in. Strong pesticides, including now-banned substances like DDT, helped keep bedbugs at bay for several decades. However, with increased global travel and the insects’ growing resistance to modern pesticides, bedbugs are now making a comeback.
The Battle Continues
Bedbugs are nocturnal creatures that spend their days hiding in small spaces, usually near a bed. At night, between midnight and 5 a.m., they emerge to search for body heat and carbon dioxide emitted by their sleeping victims. Once a suitable host is found, they pierce the skin and feed on blood for several minutes. It can take one to three weeks for welts to appear after being bitten.
The fight against bedbugs is ongoing, particularly in the hospitality industry. The Greater Lancaster Hotel and Motel Association, along with the Lancaster City Housing Authority, has taken steps to educate staff and residents, conduct regular inspections, and implement effective extermination methods. However, the cost of treatment can be a significant burden for many individuals and establishments.
Joanne Moore, who experienced a bedbug infestation, has become an advocate for raising awareness about this growing problem. She keeps a couple of dead bedbugs in her purse to show people who doubt her story. Moore believes that increasing awareness is crucial for combating the spread of bedbugs and preventing future infestations.
While the situation with bedbugs may seem daunting, it is possible to address this issue effectively. By staying informed, taking preventative measures, and seeking professional help when needed, we can protect ourselves and our communities from these pesky pests.
To learn more about bedbug prevention and treatment, visit Ambassadeur Hotel.